Melvin White embraces mega challenge

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CHARLOTTE – When Wednesday's media availability in the Panthers locker room began, it wasn't long before wide receiver Calvin Johnson's name had been mentioned a dozen times.

That's expected when the Detroit Lions are on the schedule.

What's unexpected is an undrafted second-year cornerback getting ready to defend the All-Pro wideout nicknamed Megatron.

That's the challenge facing Melvin White, the little-known cornerback from Louisiana Lafayette.

"He's more talented than guys put on for him," safety Thomas DeCoud said of White. "He's one of those guys that flew under the radar, being undrafted, and he really made a name for himself as a person who belongs in this league. He has the ability."

White started the last 10 games of the 2013 season and posted 45 tackles, two interceptions - one of which he returned for a touchdown - four passes defensed and one forced fumble.

He started last week's season opener, and he and fellow-starter Antoine Cason helped limit Tampa Bay wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans to a combined nine catches for 73 yards.

Next up is the high-powered Detroit attack, headlined by Johnson, fresh off a 164-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 1.

"That's what you live for, getting a chance to play who they label as one of the best in the game," White said. "There's nothing more that can excite you."

White won't be alone in tracking Johnson, of course. "We are all going to get a chance to go against him," he said.

But when the 6-foot-1, 205-pound White lines up across from the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson it will be quite the paradox – a cornerback few people across the league know much about versus a freakishly-explosive, well-established NFL superstar.

"I'm so locked in. In my mind, it is not a shocker. Because I knew what I was capable of – everybody else just didn't," White said. "It's not a surprise to me. There's not a big WOW moment or anything."

White is always smiling about something. He keeps it light, and it was no different Wednesday as he discussed this week's challenge.

"He's a really fun guy to be around – always cracking jokes," DeCoud said.

White will be all smiles again on Sunday when he gets a chance to share the field with one of the game's elite.

"Everybody has their own journey to get to where they are, but he came from the bottom and blazed his own path," DeCoud said. "You have to respect that."

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